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Switching From Beef To Banquets

Doug and Cheryl Livingstone and family have been producing grain and purebred Hereford cattle on their Vermillion, Alberta area farm for many years. But, as Doug recently noted, speaking to the Canadian Farm Writers Federation conference in Edmonton, “food doesn’t gain any real value until after it leaves the farm gate.”

So the Livingstones have recently embarked on a venture that makes use of the natural advantages found on their 2,200 acre Val Terra Ranch. They’ve gone into the hospitality industry.

The farming family has recently opened Red Feather Ridge Lodge. Built on a hill overlooking a natural pond and wooded area on the farm, the Red Feather Lodge is a banquet and meeting facility that can handle both small and medium-sized gatherings, with banquet facilities for up to 160 people. Next year they plan to have three cabins ready for overnight accommodations for up to 12 people.

Cherly Livingstone has long been in the catering business, and son Robert is a trained chef who worked in the restaurant industry in Calgary for a number of years.

Since it was becoming more difficult to pencil out a profit selling beef cattle, the Livingstones looked at other business options that could make use of their ranch as well as their skills.

Red Feather Ridge, which just opened in recent weeks, can hosts groups ranging in size from six to 160. The lodge is ideal for any business or association looking for a place to hold a day long seminar or staff meeting, or families looking for a location for a reunion, birthday party or wedding.

With Doug and Cheryl and Robert and his wife Audra actively involved in the Red Feather Ridge, they plan to scale back on both beef and crop production. “We looked at our options and we can’t do it all,” says Doug. “Likely the grain and some of the cattle will go and will put our efforts into the new venture.”

A website for Red Feather Ridge is in the works, but not yet operating. In the meantime for more information contact the Livingstones at (780) 763-2385 or email:

DON’T GET SMART

Did you hear about Outlook, Sask. crop advisor who’s lawnmower broke this summer and his wife kept hinting he should get it fixed.

But, there was always something else to take care of first, fields to check, the truck to service, playing golf — always something more important to him.

Finally the wife thought of a clever way to make her point.

When the CCA arrived home one day, he found his wife seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors.

He watched silently for a short time, then went into the house, and came out a couple minutes later and handed her a toothbrush.

He said, “When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway.”

The doctors say he will walk again, but he’ll always have a limp.

Moral to this story:

Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right, and the other is the husband.

PFIZER PARTNERS WITH BIXS

Pfizer Animal Health has formed an alliance between the Pfizer Gold program, and the newly created Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS), developed by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association as part of their Canadian Beef Advantage strategy. (See BIXS feature Grainews September 2009)

Under the alliance, any producers who participate in the Pfizer Gold Program also have the option to be registered on BIXS. BIXS, as the name says, is a beef information exchange network between individual beef producers, feedlots and packers. Producers who enter their cattle identification numbers on BIXS can get a wide range of information back from feeders and packers about how those cattle fed and finished and how they graded at the plant.

If producers decide not to provide information to BIXS they can still be involved in the Pfizer Gold Program. And by the same token, producers can also register cattle on BIXS without participating in the Pfizer Gold Program.

One reason the two programs work so well together, is that a key element in developing the marketing value of BIXS is to provide feeders and packers with information on animal health protocol. The information flow goes in both directions. Cow-calf producers can use BIXS to describe to feeders and packers production protocols, while feeders and packers can use BIXS to advise producers how those cattle performed. Feeders and packers can also use BIXS to advise producers on the type of cattle they are looking for to meet specific feeding and market needs.

ALL ABOUT VERIFICATION

IGENITY and Global Animal Management (GAM) have joined forces to provide producers with the first-ever option to combine information from a comprehensive DNA profile with health, source and age records in one user-friendly package.

“Now, producers can merge the inside information from IGENITY with calf health, source and age verification records all in one place,” says Stewart Bauck, executive director of research and development, IGENITY. “This partnership is a continuation of user-friendly solutions IGENITY and GAM have brought to the beef industry.”

TRI-MERIT is a data management tool from GAM, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intervet/ Schering-Plough Animal Health, that can be used to certify traditional health processes as well as verify age, source and movement of individual cattle. By linking TRI-MERIT with IGENITY, producers can now store a wealth of information about their cattle in one system. IGENITY, a division of Merial, offers DNA analyses for more than 15 economically important traits, a diagnostic test for persistent infections (PI) of the bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) virus and more.

Bauck adds that this convenient offering from IGENITY comes just in time for producers who are evaluating marketing options for their spring calf crop.

“Feedyard buyers are likely to be choosy this fall when it comes to selecting cattle to fill their pens,” Bauck says. “Now, producers can supply buyers with information about their cattle’s genetics, BVDPI status, health records, age and source of origin all in one convenient package — giving buyers more confidence in their purchasing decisions.”

For more information about IGENITY, producers should contact their IGENITY sales representative, call 1-877-IGENITY or visit For more information about GAM or TRI-MERIT, call 1-800-235-9824 or visit

NEW ALFALFA HYBRID

Producers interested in a hybrid alfalfa that does well in both wet and dry conditions, may be interested in the new Hybriforce — 2400 Gen — 2 hybrid alfalfa available exclusively through BrettYoung Seeds.

The company says, the HybriForce 2400 Gen 2 hybrid alfalfa offers greater performance and durability than the original hybrid alfalfa, HybriForce 400. Research has shown the hybrid alfalfa performs well in both wet and dry years, through extreme winter conditions and in multiple cutting regimes.

Extensive field studies and trials have shown that HybriForce 2400 Gen 2 outperforms competitive alfalfa varieties in 94.3 per cent of the head-to-head comparisons. Reports show HybriForce 2400 Gen 2 hybrid alfalfa is 10 to 20 percent higher yielding than competing varieties. As well, it performs well across all soil types, weather extremes and various cutting management practices. side-by-side grazing scenarios.” For more information contact: Garry Van Den Bussche, at BrettYoung at (204)230-5898 or email:

READ FINE PRINT

The Manitoba Cattle Producers Association (MCPA) is asking their producers to use caution when applying for the new Environmental Farm Action Program (EFAP) and Manitoba Sustainable Agriculture Practices Program (MSAPP). Several clauses under the application’s “terms and conditions” have raised concern, most significantly:

I/We agree that carbon offset credits (if any) achieved from greenhouse gas reductions and removals through BMPs incented by MSAPP and/or EFAP will be owned by the Province of Manitoba and the applicant(s) in proportion to the original contributions provided for the project by same until the retirement or sale of credits.

The information will be stored, used and shared by officials of Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives or other government departments where the information is relevant for the purpose

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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